Ongoing Challenges

NEW YORK BLOOD CENTER

Building Name: New York Blood Center
Building Address: 310 East 67th Street
Architect: ENNEAD
Developer: Longfellow Real Estate Partners
Building Height: 334 feet
Number of Stories: 16
Floor Height: 16-20 feet
DCP Information: Click here.

Project Information:
The New York Blood Center released plans in October 2020 to demolish its modest 1930 building on a large through-block site on East 67th Street between First and Second Avenues. Replacing the three-story building would be a 334 foot midblock commercial tower, anchored by the Blood Center on the first five floors, with over 60% of the building controlled by the developer Longfellow and leased to undisclosed tenants in the life sciences industry.

Blood Center proposal at East 67th Street

The Mayor and the Blood Center have framed the project as an essential part of the city's growing life sciences industry. But the Blood Center has stated it could modernize and expand without the massive rezoning this project has proposed. To enable the private development by Longfellow, the Blood Center seeks an astonishing array of rezoning, special permits, and amendments for the new building that would upend decades of zoning policies that have created and sustained the characteristics of our historic residential neighborhood.

The new building's footprint, larger than the tower of the Empire State Building, will be a massive and bulky presence on the block, towering over its low-rise neighbors, including a branch of the New York Public Library, the Julia Richman Educational Complex across the street, and St. Catherine's Park, one of the only open green spaces in the neighborhood. Most importantly, the applicant seeks to undo the R8B contextual zoning which has protected and preserved the special low-rise character of the Upper East Side side streets for decades, since it was mapped in the 1980s as one of FRIENDS' founders earliest efforts. This project sets a dangerous precedent for every midblock on the Upper East Side.

The project was certified by the City Planning Commission on April 19th, kickstarting the ULURP public review process. During this 6-month process, Community Board 8, Borough President Gale Brewer, and the City Planning Commission will weigh in on the project within Charter-mandated timeframes. The public review process culminates with a key vote from Council Member Ben Kallos expected this fall.

FRIENDS has serious concerns about the project and has retained the law firm Carter Ledyard & Milburn as a strategic partner as we organize with neighbors and concerned members of the community. Concerns include:

1. The proposal seeks to allow a 600,000 square foot commercial building in a residential midblock. The 334 foot tall building has floor plates the size of the Empire State Building and would be 4.5 times taller than the 75 foot height limit allowed by zoning – zoning that was designed to preserve access to light and air, especially given the location directly across from St. Catherine's Park and six schools in the Julia Richman Educational Complex.

2. The proposal would permit large-scale commercial uses and laboratories that are antithetical to the modest services and shops appropriate and necessary to residential neighborhoods.

3. The proposal would permit the creation of hundreds of thousands of square feet of "office" space when the city is in a commercial real estate crisis with a vacancy rate of 15%, or 68.4 million square feet.

4. The proposal is silent on whether the biosafety level 3 labs (BSL-3), a use that the City's own Board of Health states poses the potential for "catastrophic consequences," are available to commercial tenants. This hazardous use may be both for the Blood Center itself and the tenant spaces on the upper floors.

5. Finally, the Blood Center itself has stated that its programmatic needs can be met by rebuilding within the existing zoning envelope. Most of the building would be controlled by Longfellow, a for-profit real estate firm based in Boston; the Blood Center would occupy just 35% of the space.

KEY DATES:

SEE DCP ZONING APPLICATION PORTAL FOR UPCOMING ULURP DATES: https://zap.planning.nyc.gov/projects/2019M0430

ADDITIONAL IMAGES:

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